Last updated: 26th November 2021
It’s your right to respond to any disciplinary or grievance outcome by way of an appeal, and that starts with your appeal letter.
Under the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration (ACAS) code, you are entitled to appeal disciplinary decisions, or grievance outcomes, made by your employer.
This guide aims to help you draft a well constructed appeal letter that could help in overturning a decision, or be referred to in the event that you advance a claim at Employment Tribunal.
In what circumstances can I use an appeal letter?
In short, in any circumstance that relates to appealing a disciplinary or grievance decision made by your employer that you disagree with.
This would include appealing against a first written warning, final written warning, demotion or unfair dismissal.
Examples include, where you feel:
- Your employer failed to properly investigate allegations made against you in a disciplinary hearing
- The person dealing with your disciplinary hearing has got their facts wrong
- That despite admitting to a disciplinary offence, the sanction imposed upon you by your employer was unfair or too harsh
Once in receipt of your appeal letter, your employer should then commence the appeal process.
Essential To Know
The appeals process does not extend your time for commencing legal action in the Employment Tribunal.
As such, you must remember that the 3 month less 1 day time limit runs from the date of your dismissal, resignation, redundancy or last detriment suffered (not the date of your appeal, as is often incorrectly assumed by employees).
You can use our Employment Tribunal Limitation Date Calculator to work out your dates.
Cunning employers may be tempted to slow down the appeals process, so you run out of time to advance a claim at tribunal – DON’T FALL FOR THIS TRICK!
If you are running out of time and the appeals process is not concluded, you can register your case with ACAS for early conciliation. This will stop the clock from ticking for a period of time.
Check your employer’s disciplinary procedures
Prior to writing your appeal letter, you should read a copy of your company’s disciplinary procedures.
These should set out the procedure your employer expects you to follow when appealing a decision.
Please note: Where you would have received a disciplinary letter, this should have set out the time frame (normally 5 days) in which they expect you to appeal, and the person your appeal needs to be directed to.
What should my appeal letter contain?
When writing your letter, you should stick to the facts and avoid being emotional.
You should clearly outline why you feel your disciplinary or grievance outcome is unfair and why you wish to appeal it.
Remember to avoid coming across as difficult, uncooperative or aggressive. You want to come across as a reasonable individual.
Set out what you want your employer to do, i.e overturn their initial decision by considering new evidence or conducting further investigation.
The purpose of your appeal letter is to set out , concisely and clearly, the basis upon which you feel their original decision was wrong.
There could be a range of issues that you wish to include within your appeal letter, including where:
- A colleague who faced a similar disciplinary decision was not subject to the same sanction as you
- You feel your employer did not take into account your previously unblemished work record when making their decision
- Evidence that would have worked in your favour has been ignored. For example, where your employer failed to view CCTV footage that would have supported your position
- A witness who gave evidence against you, could be deemed to have had an ulterior motive
Your letter does not need to be written in a particular format, it just needs to support your viewpoint in a reasonable, concise and factual manner.
You should construct your appeal letter in such as way as to direct the resultant appeal hearing.
Below you will find example templates of appeal letters that you may find helpful as guides when preparing your own.
What you can expect from an appeal hearing
Once you have submitted your appeal letter, your employer will normally write to let you know when your appeal hearing has been scheduled to take place.
The person dealing with your appeal hearing should be impartial.
Essential To Know
The person dealing with your appeal should be different to the person who dealt with your original disciplinary hearing.
If you have any concerns about the individual who has been nominated to deal with your appeal, you should write to your employer as quickly as possible to request an alternative member of staff.
Of course, in some cases a company can be quite small and there may then be a lack of available staff to deal with your appeal. In that case you could possibly request that your appeal is dealt with by an external resource, such as an HR company.
There will be similarities to your disciplinary hearing, in that:
- You must ensure you send all relevant information and evidence you will be relying on to the person dealing with your appeal, well in advance of the hearing
- Similarly, you should send a written request for any additional information or evidence you wish to be considered, well in advance
- You are entitled to accompanied by a witness at your appeal hearing.
Please remember, your witness is not there to make your argument, or to participate substantially in the meeting. They are there to make an accurate record of what is discussed, in case there is any discrepancy that needs to be referenced following the hearing.
When it comes to your appeal hearing, you should make your arguments in a calm way. You should conduct yourself in a professional and reasonable manner at all times.
Do not be, in any way, aggressive or intimidatory – you need to come across as the reasonable party.
This will be very important if you find yourself advancing a claim to be judged at Employment Tribunal.
Once your appeal hearing has concluded, you should expect your employer to advise you that they will need consider what was discussed and will respond in due course.
It would be usual to receive a copy of the minutes from your meeting. You should carefully review these to check they accurately reflect it. If you believe there are important details missing from these notes, you should politely point this out in writing, requesting the missing information is added before you agree to them.
Unfortunately, the decision of the appeal chairperson is final.
If the appeal chairperson upholds your employer’s original decision, then your internal options are exhausted.
As such, you may at this stage wish to consider other options.
In circumstances where you may not have already been dismissed (for example, based on an appeal against a first or final warning, or unreasonable demotion), you may wish to tender your resignation and consider advancing a claim for constructive dismissal.
Alternatively, if the decision you are appealing was your dismissal, you wish to investigate bringing an unfair dismissal claim against your employer.
Options to consider where your appeal has been unsuccessful and led to a loss of employment
Where you may prefer to pursue your matter without legal representation, you can make a claim at Employment Tribunal yourself.
You may find it helpful if you require quick and definitive insight into your legal position to speak to me via one of my convenient Talk to Tom telephone consultations.
Alternatively, get in touch with one of our friendly and knowledgable team on 0800 756 6605. Or, submit your details 24/7 via our quick and simple online enquiry form and we will respond to you via phone, text or email within 48 hours of receiving your information.
Where you have a viable case, we will look to represent you at Employment Tribunal on a no win no fee basis.